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UAIII 5.34.100

Harvard College (1780- ). Dean of Students. Records of the Dean of Students : an inventory

Harvard University Archives


Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: UAIII 5.34.100
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Harvard College (1780-). Dean of Students.
Title: Records of the Dean of Students, 1914-1999
Date(s): 1914-1999
Quantity: 1 collection (ca. 50 cubic feet in 151 containers)
Quantity: Extent is approximate.
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The office of the Dean of Students was established in 1952 following the decentralization of the Harvard College administration in 1950. Prior to that time, the duties of the Dean of Students had been carried out by a variety of college officers including the Associate Dean of Harvard College, the Dean of Harvard College, and the Regent of the College. These records, chiefly dating from the late 1930's through 1999, document the functions of the Dean of Students. The interests of the Dean include: extra-curricular undergraduate activities, the academic, mental, and physical well-being of students, and the relationships among students, faculty, college and university administration, and surrounding Cambridge community.

Acquisition Information:

The records of the Office of the Dean of Students came to the Archives in numerous accessions, including unnumbered accessions pre-dating those listed below.
  • Accession number 07793, Dean of Students, 1976 January 27
  • Accession number 07841, Dean of Students, 1976 April 22
  • Accession number 07909, Dean of Students, 1976 July 14
  • Accession number 08741, Dean of Students, 1979 August 23
  • Accession number 08892, Dean of Students, 1980 May 29
  • Accession number 09281, Dean of Students, 1981 August 21
  • Accession number 09562, Dean of Students, 1982 September 16
  • Accession number 09637, Dean of Students, 1983 January 13
  • Accession number 09864, Dean of Students, 1983 September 15
  • Accession number 10221, Dean of Students, 1984 September 18
  • Accession number 10356, Dean of Students, 1985 February 20
  • Accession number 10406, Dean of Students, 1985 May 1
  • Accession number 10526, Dean of Students, 1985 August 14
  • Accession number 10763, Dean of Students, 1986 June 20
  • Accession number 10809, Dean of Students, 1986 August 4
  • Accession number 11507, Dean of Students, 1988 August 25
  • Accession number 13935, Dean of Students, 1999 April 28
  • Accession number 14076, Dean of Students, 1999 November 2
  • Custodial Information:

    Records were received into the Harvard University Archives directly from the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students office has been discontinued as of 1999; future accruals will not originate from the Dean of Students, but similar records will come to the Harvard University Archives from offices subordinate to the Dean of the College.

    Processing Information:

    Processed by Andrea Goldstein, Keith Anderson, and Rachel D'Agostino, August 1999 - February 2000.
    Processing staff in the Harvard University Archives re-arranged the Records of the Dean of Students in 1999-2000. Re-arrangement included consolidation of series, creation of subseries, re-numbering of boxes, elimination of separate call numbers, creation of this finding aid, and archival re-containering of fragile material. Processing staff discarded duplicate records and records that did not meet the collection policy of the Harvard University Archives as expressed in the General Records Schedule. Additional administrative records of the Dean of Students held in the Harvard University Archives and unprocessed as of February 2000 will be added to this record group.

    Conditions on Use and Access:

    Access to unpublished university records is restricted for 50 years from the date of creation of the record(s). Access to student and personnel records is restricted for 80 years. See reference staff for details. No restrictions on access apply to published records. Details regarding restrictions on specific series and folders are noted below.

    Allied Material in the Harvard University Archives

    University Records

    Papers of Individual Faculty Members

    See also publications by and about the Office of the Dean of Students that are catalogued in Harvard's on-line integrated library system.

    History of the Dean of Students

    The Dean of Students was responsible for many aspects of the non-academic lives of Harvard College students. These responsibilities have been shared by many college officials over the years. Early in the history of Harvard University, chief officials such as the President and Corporation were involved in the non-academic lives of students. As the University grew, responsibilities were divided and divided again among a variety of officers and under a number of administrative structures. These structures are still evolving.
    The Dean of Harvard College oversaw extracurricular student life for many years. Over time, responsibilities of the Dean grew and had to be delegated. Many of the duties of the Dean of Students had been the responsibility of the Regent of the College from 1891 until that office was abolished in 1935. At that time, supervision of all undergraduate student organizations was assigned to various Assistant Deans of the College. Robert Watson, one of the assistant deans, took on this responsibility and others having to do with student life, such as membership in the Administrative Board, a disciplinary committee.
    At the beginning of the post-World War II period, demobilization created a student body of unprecedented size. It became necessary to increase administrative staff to manage the large number of returning and new students. In 1946 the position of Associate Dean of Harvard College was re-established to relieve the Dean of the College from the burden of work having to do with the Houses, the parietal board and student activities. Robert B. Watson was appointed the new Associate Dean of the College. (The office of Associate Dean had previously existed from 1935 until 1943, its responsibilities being those of overseeing the College's alumni placement and student employment programs. In 1943 that office was abolished and the Dean of the College assumed its duties.)
    By the late 1940s the College Administration recognized the failure of the advisory system to adequately serve the needs of undergraduates, in particular upperclassmen. The result was a decentralization of the administration of the College, including abolishment of the Dean of the College, which was replaced with the Dean of Students and the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aids. Additional duties of the Dean of the College were given to the eight Allston Burr Senior Tutors. (The Dean of the College was re-established after a few years, although the Tutors and their duties remain.)
    Delmar Leighton, who had served as Dean of Freshmen since 1931, was appointed the first Dean of Students. Leighton had general oversight of the Allston Burr Senior Tutors, served as Chairman of the Administrative Board of Harvard College, and helped to coordinate the activities of the Board of Freshmen Advisers, the Bureau of Study Counsel, the Office of Tests, the Student Placement Office, and Phillips Brooks House. Watson, who had served as Associate Dean of the College since 1946, was appointed Associate Dean of Students. In 1956 the Dean of Students returned to its original name, Dean of Harvard College.
    In 1958 Leighton resigned as Dean of Harvard College to become the first Master of Dudley House. John U. Monro, the Director of the Financial Aid Center since 1950, succeeded him as Dean of the College and Watson was appointed Dean of Students. He served as Dean of Students until 1970, when he resigned to become the Director of Athletics. That same year Archie C. Epps III, who had served as an Assistant Dean of the College since 1964, succeeded Watson as Dean of Students.
    As a result of continuing campus unrest stemming from the social and political upheaval of the late 1960's, Epps began his tenure in a tense atmosphere. On-campus issues included calls to abolish ROTC, race relations, and the physical expansion of the University into Cambridge and Boston. Students had taken over University Hall in April 1969 and forced out administrators, including Dean of Students Watson and Assistant Dean of the College Archie Epps. When Epps became Dean of Students, the office was deeply involved in these issues because Watson, in his role as Dean of Students, filed complaints for criminal trespass against students involved in the takeover.
    As Dean of Students, Epps set to work restoring the trust among students, faculty, and the administration. Epps, while an advocate of students' rights, also demanded that students take responsibility for their actions. He encouraged students to found clubs and groups that expressed their interests, identities, and concerns. Epps' tenure as Dean of Students saw growth in the number and diversity of extra-curricular organizations on campus. In addition, under Epps' leadership, the Office of the Dean of Students became a center for discussion and improvement of campus race-relations during the late 1970s and 1980s. Epps retired in 1999 but remained at the College in a part-time capacity as Senior Associate Dean continuing his race-relations work.
    A report, ca. 1994, on the administrative structure of Harvard College noted that more and more undergraduates were turning to senior tutors in the Houses or assistant deans of freshmen for assistance, rather than to the Office of the Dean of Students. In 1999, following the recommendations of this report, the position of Dean of Students was eliminated and its responsibilities were divided among three Associate Deans. Thomas A. Dingman, already serving as Associate Dean for Human Resources and the House System, assumed oversight of the Houses, athletics, advising and student health and welfare. Georgene Hershbach, former Registrar of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, took on responsibilities for technology projects and classroom space, including administrative and financial oversight of all College operations. David P. Illingworth, former Associate Director of Financial Aid in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid in Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges took responsibility for student extracurricular affairs and other aspects of student life.

    Series and Subseries in the Collection


    The records are arranged in two series, Office Records and Records on Student Organizations, and thereunder arranged into topical or functional subseries and sub-subseries. This arrangement is equivalent to the arrangement of the files as they came from the various deans.

    Scope and Content of the Records of the Dean of Students

    These records document the activities of the Dean of Students and of other officers charged with similar responsibilities before the Dean of Students was established. These officers had responsibility for oversight of the non-academic aspects of undergraduate student life from the late 1930's through 1999. Hence the records document the enduring concerns of student extra-curricular activity, social life, housing, physical and mental health, discipline, and finances. In addition, they throw light on the influence of changing social, political, and economic forces on undergraduate life.
    The largest portion of the records document the Dean's oversight of undergraduate extra-curricular organizations and chronicle their activities and histories. These records demonstrate student organizations' importance in the academic, social, and political life of the College. The sub-series Organizations Not Recognized is notable because it contains material relating to why certain organizations were denied official recognition by the College. The records also concern student discipline, student unrest during the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Reserve Officers Training Corps, and the relationship between the Dean of Students and the Harvard student government.


    This document last updated 2015 March 6.

    Obsolete Call Numbers

    The following list provides a map to old call numbers that were eradicated by Archives staff during processing. All of the records of the Office of the Dean of Students now fall under the single call number of UAIII 5.34.100. However, the Office Records of Archie C. Epps III, Dean of Students 1970-1999, can be found under the call number UAIII 5.34.116. In the future, Epps' Office Records will be added to the existing Office Records Series in UAIII 5.34.100.

    Container List